Thursday, 26 May 2016 10:55

Loving governance

Written by  Pam Tipa
Dairy Woman of the Year Rebecca Keoghan. Dairy Woman of the Year Rebecca Keoghan.

Dairy Woman of the Year Rebecca Keoghan loves governance and strategy and has worked her way into that in the last couple of years.

The Westport dairy farmer who is also a business manager for Landcorp is in her first term with Westland Milk Products.

"That's a massive challenge for a freshy like me. I need to learn and grow with that, but I would like to go further on the governance side."

She is also on the board of Buller Holdings Ltd. She applauds the call from dairy entrepreneur Diane Foreman for more women on boards and says on the Buller board there is a 50/50 gender split. It is a small board and the diversity works well. Westland has two women: "It's a start," she says.

She thinks women have wonderful skills to offer and should be in there in relative numbers. But a board should be based on the strengths and skills of the people.

Jaws were dropping during the Dairy Woman of the Year Awards event at the list of Keoghan's commitments. The mother of two is also a Landcorp business manager, NZ Dairy Industry Awards Dairy Manager of the Year Award team leader, OSPRI Northern South Island committee member and Keoghan Farm director with her husband Nathan, to name a few. At Landcorp, Keoghan has overall strategic leadership and direction of five large dairy farms, a dairy support farm and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind and the Grey Valley. And she plays in two brass bands.

Keoghan says she could not do it without family support. On the farm "everybody lives there" – her mother-in-law, her husband's grandmother, sisters and sisters-in-law, one of whom is a nanny. She says she's organised but so are most working women.

She has worked in the dairy industry for 10 years since returning to the family farm from Australia. She had only had deer experience before that; her father owned a deer farm in Invercargill.

Her induction into dairy was "a pretty rapid one". "Since then I have been immersed into it. I definitely love it.

"It's the people for a start: one of my passions is people and development, particularly with Landcorp – developing those people to where they can go.

"Dairy is such a technical industry; that is not something I did not know before I joined it. That's something I really enjoy; it plays to my likes.

"It is a wonderful lifestyle for children. We are lucky where we are on our farm. Dairy picks all those cards; it is great."

Keoghan wins a $30,000 place on the 11-month Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Programme sponsored by Fonterra, which she will take up next year.

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